Local, state, national jobless claims tick up

Daniel Fowler
September 26, 2020

USA employers added 1.4 million jobs in August, while the unemployment rate dropped to 8.4 per cent, according to earlier data from the Bureau of Labour Statistics.

The number of people applying for unemployment claims for the first time in Idaho was down 6% for the week ending September 19, according to the Idaho Department of Labor.

"While the small increase in initial claims is unwelcome news, the overall trend over the last two months has been a relatively steady decline in initial unemployment claims, from almost 40,000 a week in mid-July to 10,000 in mid-September", said Dominique Johnson, research associate at the Old Dominion University Dragas Center for Economic Analysis and Policy. The number was above the level that economists were expecting, as experts had forecast a decline to 850,000 claims, CNBC reports. Claims in the Empire State rose by more than 9,000 last week and first-time filers in Georgia came jumped by more than 6,000.

At a hearing before the Senate Banking Committee, U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said on Thursday that the lack of further fiscal support would pose a downside risk to the U.S. economy, which is recovering from the COVID-19 induced recession.

The growing concerns about fraudulent applications for unemployment benefits have focused mainly on a new program, Pandemic Unemployment Assistance. The department will try to clear a backlog of almost 600,000 first-time applications and review about 1 million people who have received benefits but whose cases have come under scrutiny. The 20 people who were charged Wednesday had sought a combined $300,000 in money from the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, state Attorney General Josh Shapiro said.

Meanwhile, the recipients of Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC), which provides an additional 13 weeks of benefits for those who exhaust regular state benefits, rose to 1.63 million in the week ending September 5.

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The claims report also showed the number of people receiving benefits after an initial week of aid dropped 167,000 to 12.58 million in the week ending September 12.

That decline, however, might have partially reflected the exhaustion of the eligibility for benefits, as workers in most states are eligible for up to 26 weeks of benefits from the regular state unemployment program.

While ODJFS continues to manage the state's unemployment program, it also has multiple initiatives underway to help spur Ohio's economic recovery.

Many employers are struggling.

The Fed has cut interest rates to near zero and vowed to keep borrowing costs low for a while, and has also been pumping money into the economy.

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